The project on Improving the Quality and Relevance of University Research within National Innovation Systems in West and Central Africa: the Governance Issues is a joint initiative of the West African Office of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the Association of African Universities (AAU). The three-year project was launched in March 2010 with the following objectives:
To better understand and assess the place and role of universities within national innovation systems;
To determine how to build appropriate research governance systems
To foster better linkages with other actors to ensure quality university research that is relevant to local needs and national development priorities.
The Project’s activities cover three (3) broad areas – Knowledge Production (Research), Capacity Building and Multi-stakeholder Collaboration (Networking) - and involves selected public and private universities in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal.
It is expected that the Project will provide evidence on university research governance and national innovation systems, available online and presented in national and pan-African policy forums, and an operational inter-university platform for experience-sharing, learning and networking. Ultimately these outputs are expected to contribute towards the strengthening of capacity for research, and research governance within participating universities.
Universities are critical actors of national innovation systems and contribute to socio-economic development. In 2009, in light of this, and considering the increased interest in higher education as a critical factor in development, the West Africa Regional Office of the Canadian IDRC commissioned a study on the state of university research governance in West and Central Africa. Following the study, a meeting was held in October 2009 to validate the findings which mainly revealed a lack of appropriate structures and noted deficiencies in research administration. Subsequently, in collaboration with the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a project proposal was developed to address these issues and contribute towards a better system of university research and management.
The proposal on Improving the Quality and Relevance of University Research within National Innovation Systems in West and Central Africa: the Governance Issues was subsequently approved by the IDRC in March 2010. The project is being implemented by the AAU in partnership with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG), the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), West African Research and Innovation Management (WARIMA) and the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA).